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19TH CENTURY SHIKARGAH SHIELD

Place of Origin: MEWAR, INDIA

Date: 19th Century

Overall Diameter: 560mm (22 ½ inches)

Reference: 334

Status: Available

Full Description:

This shield originates from the same place in India as the previous example in this catalogue and exhibits many of the same features, though with some important differences in style and in the scenes depicted.

At the centre of the shield is a circular panel of similar arrangement to the previous shield – the golden face of Surya, the crowned sun god, sits at the middle, surrounded by a stylised sunburst and an outer band of red flowerheads alternating with leaves in green. Though the essential size and shape of Surya’s face is unchanged from the last example, one can observe that here his features (as well as the rest of the central circular panel) are painted with somewhat thicker, bolder lines, suggesting that the shield is likely of 19th-century manufacture.[1] Four silver bosses with flourishing central flowerheads and concentric circular borders are placed around the Surya-panel.

The four main scenes of animals meeting cruel leonine fates – (clockwise from the top of the shield) a buffalo, jackal, pangolin and antelope – are placed at approximately equidistant points around the shield’s circumference, and as in the previous example are picked out in excellent painted detail. Certain stylistic differences in comparison to the glass-bossed shield, however, are noticeable upon closer inspection: the lions here have more rounded bodies compared to their leaner counterparts in the previous example, and their faces are generally larger both in size and in their features, all gazing outwards at the viewer. More generally, we might also say that this shield presents a somewhat less morbid atmosphere. The pangolin almost appears to be stuck on the lion rather than mauled by it, and the antelope and jackal could even be said to show slight smiles – the struggle of the former animal further made confusing for the fact that its hooves have been replaced with paws, so that its torso seems all the more entangled with that of its pursuer.

As in the previous shield, a thin decorative band at the brim shows further shikargah scenes of animals in combat and flight: tigers hunt down oxen and other prey, elephants both clash and retreat, and in one small part of the scene a man appears to chase away a tiger. The red-painted reverse face is fitted with a moss-green velvet padded cushion and iron rings which are secured by the frontal bosses and further attached with pink fabric handstraps for holding the shield securely. Also painted on the back in a lighter shade of red is “A-“ (the second character appears to be rubbed).


[1] See the previous example in this catalogue as well as Runjeet Singh, The Goddess: Arms and Armour of the Rajputs – London 2018, No. 27, p. 77, and the reference there cited: G.N. Pant & K.K. Sharma, Indian Armours in the National Museum Collection, New Delhi National Museum, 2001, pp. 85-88, Nos. 76 & 77.